“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”- James 1:2-4
This God. This God whose ways are not our ways. This God, who can be perfectly good yet allow horrifically evil things to go on in the world around us. This God who has complete, perfect purpose in ISIS, in earthquakes, in riots, in cancer, in disability.
“The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”- Job 1:21
Yesterday morning, I had the privilege of speaking to a group of women who have been studying the book of Job. As I was telling them pieces of our story, God’s glorious details being poured out, His purposes still somewhat hidden, I explained to them that about six months into our family’s realization that God was doing something completely different in our family than we had planned, I knew I had a choice. I was confident I could say the first part of this verse alongside Job- that the Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Yet, could I speak the second part in the depths of who I was? Could I bless the name of the Lord in the middle of something that was so “other” than what I would have considered good?
I am not even remotely saying that a, “yes” to this was or is easy. I am saying that it has been pivotal to the joy I have experience in the months after.
I would say the same to you; to each and every member of society in the midst of each and every individual circumstance, every various trial if you will.
Let me make something clear: Morgan cannot make any good out of the chaos ISIS is breeding throughout the world. Morgan could not even begin to bring purpose out of cancer, natural disaster, disability, riots, accidents or the like.
There is a very human side of me that still looks at these stories in disgust and wonders what in the world God is doing.
Yet, as I look at His Word, He has made it very clear that while His ways are mysterious, the things He allows or does not allow have reasons unseen; yet His purposes are always good, He is always working, and He is in control over all things.
Many would say that a good God would not allow this world to remain so very broken.
I would like to gently say to those of you who speak that do not know the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Some might say that these acts are acts of evil that God has nothing to do with- something He did not have control over.
I will tenderly explain to you that if God is not in control of all that goes on here on earth, than how in the world is He sovereign and how could He possibly bring good out of all things?
He arranged for the Savior of the world to be born in a filthy barn in the skin of a tiny, human baby. He brought good out of the gruesome, bloody, inhumane, pain-filled, seemingly unjust death of His only Son on the cross.
Obviously, God has a mind of His own.
Even more crystal clear, He knows what He’s doing.
His Word makes it very clear: page after page explaining to us that in this world, we will have trouble.
This is not a possibility, it is a promise.
And while I cannot even begin to comprehend some of the things people around the world or individuals reading this blog have walked through, what I can assure you is that the same God that has carried me through these trials with our girls is the God that is intimately, Spirit on spirit, walking each human being through whatever He has allowed.
He doesn’t just give the enemy permission to test us and then leave us there.
He fights the battles for us.
He doesn’t just show up in the aftermath.
He that breathes the very breath into our lungs lights the way for us and promises to not allow affliction to go on one millisecond longer than it has to in order to fulfill the purpose for which it was sent.
Very literally- you are not alone in your suffering if you have Christ.
The trials may be various but the goodness of God in the midst always stands firm.
I know, I know. It is easy to look at whatever is going on in the lives of those around us, or, at times, in our own lives, and think, “How in the world is this producing steadfastness? Testing my faith- absolutely. I can wholeheartedly agree with that part. But bringing steadfastness? Really?”
I have been there, even this week at times- so many moments where I feel anything but faithful and cannot imagine how specific moments of our story are making good.
This God whose ways are simply not our ways.
This God who is never intimidated by our questions and always open to our wrestling.
The same God who created all things-to Him, for Him, through Him- the God who took away the one kind of suffering we truly had to fear-albeit, being cast away from God- He urges each of our hearts to not look at individual circumstances and instead look to the One who formed the individuals.
This new piece of our journey has been full of long nights, tears, new questions, weary emotions, layers of grief I didn’t know existed, and trying moments.
Yet, as I have had to remind myself over and over and over, I ask myself once again to bless the name of the Lord; not because it always feels good but because I know He is worthy.
There is so much comfort in recognizing that He is mysterious in His doings, because it gives us the freedom to admit to Him that we have no idea why He has done the things He has done at times! We can respectfully and graciously give Him glory in speaking His truth back to Himself,
“God, You are so other than me. I cannot begin to fathom some of the choices You have made, yet this I know: You are good. Your ways are perfect. You have purpose in all things and the glory is coming. You have the victory already and one day, the veil will be removed and we shall see things for how they truly are, the fog lifted and the blinders removed. Until then, blessed be Your name. Today, I choose to trust You not in spite of my circumstances but in the midst of them. You are God alone.”
Friends, may we simply make the choice to believe what God’s Word says. May we cling to His promises both in our joys and in our pains. And, when we are surprised by the details or the events around us, may we lead one another to the truth that we serve a God who cannot and will not be surprised.
His Love is abundantly and perfectly steadfast in all things.
The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.
“For great is Your steadfast love toward me; You have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol”.- Psalm 86:13